“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with [his or her] privacy.” - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations, 1948
New Zealand’s schools work hard to earn the trust of their communities. As part of the important work they do, schools need to collect and hold a large body of confidential and private information about children and their families.
The 2020 Communications Trust ICT in Schools survey suggests that if digital records and email are not already used extensively in every New Zealand school, they soon will be.
In recent years some schools have taken a step further, and are starting to send information to computing services outside the school grounds for storage and processing.
In the hands of teachers who have been supported with skills development and the freedom to innovate, new devices and cloud services present wonderful opportunities to prepare students for the future.
“The rise of new computing services is a huge enabler for schools. It allows for more efficient provision of services compared with on-site hardware, and a wider range of services can be brought into the school,” says Jordan Carter, Acting Chief Executive of InternetNZ.
However, as with most new innovations, there are new risks to understand.
Schools need to learn about what is happening behind the scenes. They need to ensure that their staff have the knowledge and tools they need to work in this environment. Schools may not be fully aware whether data is safe, or even that they might have lost control of it.
Jordan says, “The most important way to deal with these challenges is open and up front discussion in school communities and with providers. Know what is offered, and on what terms, from service providers - especially in terms of data security and privacy, and commercialised use of data. Demand clarity from providers in their answers - plain English explanations and clear documentation.”
To find out more about the right approach for schools in New Zealand, we were interested to find out more about what parents want. Of the 400 parents surveyed, 95% want schools to require providers of computing and Internet services to commit by contract that they’ll only use student data to deliver services to schools, not for the companies’ own purposes.